LAFAYETTE (KLFY) – Sophomore Chris Smith had a breakout season last year on special teams, becoming an All-American kick-returner.

After the Ragin’ Cajuns lost their top two backs, Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas, to the NFL, in steps Smith to help carry on the tradition of talented running backs representing UL.

“They expect a lot out of us, especially since Trey and Eli are gone,” Smith says. “We’ve lost three good running backs the last couple of years. We’re really gonna have to step up a lot and prepare for what Coach is gonna put in front of us. I know we can handle it.”

Smith was the No. 3 running back in 2020.

The Mississippi native enters the 2021 campaign as the most experienced back.

“I’ve gotta set the example,” Smith says. “I’ve gotta be the guy. So I’m really just locking in more on my playbook, more on watching film, and just getting more prepared for what I gotta handle.”

When asked about his goals for this year, Smith says he wants to win a championship for the first time in his career.

“Really no personal goals,” Smith says. “I know everybody’s goal is to get to the next level, but for me now I haven’t won a state championship or really a Sun Belt championship officially. Like I said, the goal for me is to get UL a Sun Belt championship this year.”

One of the keys to success is having good team chemistry, and Smith says the young running back room is supportive of each other.

“We’re family,” Smith says. “We’re all tight together. We’re always together talking, meeting, going out to eat together. That builds us close like a family, as a teammate, as a brother. Us being brothers and teammates that bond each and every day, that’s helped us out a lot to stay together.”